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Remembering the Biggest Dining Surprises of 2013

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Max MacKissock on the line at the Squeaky Bean
Max MacKissock on the line at the Squeaky Bean
Photo: Adam Larkey

A Year in Eater is almost complete. We've polled the city's savviest eating crowd for their opinions about this year's best meal, best dining neighborhood, best newbie restaurant, and more. Today we ask what was the biggest dining surprise of 2013?

Amanda Faison, 5280 Magazine food editor: Despite whisperings that all was not well at the Squeaky Bean, I think it took everyone by surprise when executive chef Max Mackissock (and much of his crew) left the restaurant in August.

Kris Browning-Blas, Denver Post Food Editor: The Kitchen planning to open in Fort Collins.

Emily Hutto, Eater Denver contributor and author of Colorado's Top Brewers: I expected a surge of local, independent restaurants. Sure, we've got plenty cropping up, but it seems that 2013 was the year of the fast-casual restaurant.

Lori Midson, Westword food editor: Max MacKissock's departure from the Squeaky Bean. I don't think anyone saw that coming. Another surprise — and a great one at that – was Rioja chef-owner Jennifer Jasinski winning the James Beard award for Best Chef Southwest. It's about time.

John Lehndorff, host of Radio Nibbles on KGNU, former dining critic at the Rocky Mountain News: Given our collective diet-conscious focus I didn't see the doughnut resurgence from Dunkin' to Voodoo and beyond that is taking over.

Laura Saffioti, Eater Denver contributor: The early deaths of both Charlie Trotter and Judy Rogers. These two culinary icons have touched the lives of so many people who have gone on be my mentors.

Daliah Singer, 5280 Magazine associate writer: The mass exodus at the Squeaky Bean.

Adam Larkey, Eater Denver photographer: The biggest surprise for me is how many new, quality places have opened with hardly any spots having closed. It is both a sign of the talent in this town and how Denver is embracing them!

Tucker Shaw, Denver Post features editor: That Boulder has become boring. You know I love you Boulder, but you are calling it in lately.

Grace Boyle, Eater Contributor, author at Grace(full) Plate: There were some major transitions and shuffles happening from chefs, to front of the house with some key restaurants such as the likes of Squeaky Bean and Old Major. That, perhaps, is to be expected within the ever transient restaurant world, but when a restaurant is built around a person or personality, therein lies a difficult situation for longevity. Also, I loved watching Boulder area standby's make their way to Denver with their own version with the likes of: Oak/Acorn, Pizzeria Locale, Comida, The Kitchen, etc.

Jeremy Kossler, Denver Burger Battle founder: News: Max Mackissock leaving Squeaky Bean. Food: Amerigo's excellent fresh pasta.

Penny Parker, Black Tie Colorado: How many independent restaurant operators added to their eatery arsenal: Frank Bonanno, Troy Guard and Mary Nguyen, Justin Brunson, for example.

Brittany Werges, 303 Magazine Food & Booze Editor: Beer dinners really fell flat this year. You'd think that this would be a no brainer because we live in the Napa Valley of breweries, but so far, I haven't been to one that's really knocked it out of the park.

Jessica Hunter, Eater Denver contributor: My heart broke when Johnny Ballen and Max MacKissock ended their partnership. It's like my parents got a divorce, and I love each of them so much. I'm very happy to see Theo Adley and Samuel McCandles rocking the Bean's back of house. I'm so excited to see what Max Mackissock and Blake Edwards do with their next concept. But to me, I'll miss that Bean location on 33rd and Tennyson with its horrible kitchen space, too-cramped dining area, kitschy plateware, and bawdy laughter. Cheers to both of my parents and I'm looking forward to spending the holidays with you.

· All Year in Eater Coverage [EDen]
· How would you describe the 2013 scene in one word? [EDen]
· What was your most memorable meal of 2013? [EDen]
· Industry Tastemakers Reveal Their Standby Restaurants [EDen]

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